It's been a year since I've read this book and I still can't forget it. Set in Taliban Afghanistan, this novel gives a deeper look into the daily life of this society and the effects of oppression on the human soul. Though the story is told primarily from the perspective of the men, it's really the stories and plights of the women who have center stage.
Beautiful, powerful, moving novel about radical fundamentalism and the ordinary people who suffer under it.
The Swallows of Kabul is a story illustrating Afghan life in Kabul under the Taliban. Following two couples, we are led through the streets of Kabul to witness poverty, overpopulation and the horrors of everyday life. Yet, amid all the hopelessness, Yasmina Khadra is able to tell the story of these people so beautifully and with gorgeous, poetic prose.
At its essence, this is a story about love and the strength of women. Love is a thing that is universal, yet incredibly varied. These husbands and wives love each other in an entirely different way than American couples love each other. I believe this story shows the validity in this alternate kind of love that is so foreign to Americans.
The women are clearly the group who suffers the most injustice under the Taliban in Kabul, but it was the men in this story who were falling apart. Despite their misfortunes, the women showed incredible strength, both in different ways. I found this to be empowering and it gave me hope that all spirits in Afghanistan are not and will not be broken. Strength and bravery are important characteristics for the future of Afghanistan.
Overall, I would rate this book a 4/5 and I highly recommended it to anyone looking for a fast, beautiful and thought-provoking read.
Positives: This book was very realistic in a brutal sort of way. Giving a glimpse into the mind of an intellectual gradually crippled beyond endurance by fanaticism and human cruelty. On the other side there is the idiocy of a woman fanatically rejecting her husband for his failure to stand up to Taliban mob, to defend his principles, even though he was beaten, and would have been killed had he kept resisting.
Negatives: This book is overloaded with awkward....awkward sentences, awkward people, and awkward story. I say this because it had the potential to be another Kite Runner, a book which ended in a very ummmm awkward way, but was otherwise engaging, with fascinating characters. In this story, it was implied that before Taliban, before Russia, Afghanistan was a happy place, which is as far from truth as it can be. The women/wives were barely there sketched out characters.
The end: was very Kite-Runner-style shocker, unexpected but not well executed.
So over all I think this book is a decent, but dark (and depressing) read, which shows the poverty, the desperation, the cruelty and the unhappiness of ordinary life, ruled by fundamental Islamic Fanatics. Something we must be aware is being, bit by bit imported to USA and Europe right under our noses in the name of "Preserving immigrant's cultures" and Diversity. And though the book falls a bit short of its potential, it is still worthy read.
The description of this book says it has compassion in it. I myself find little compassion, and in all honesty the end of the book angered me. Deeply angered me. That said the book does offer a deep look into the life of Islam as it stands in Kabul under Taliban rule. The differences in opinions on what is right and wrong, and the inability to do anything about it unless youre with those who are in power. Afghanistan is not a place that is safe for anyone, and in this book it covers that. Kabul used to be an enlightened jewel that has been turned into little more than a blood stained ghost town ruble. By war, and by its own people. If you want a look into the mind of those in the ghost town give this book a read, it is well written. That said it is not for the faint of heart.